Exposure to extreme heat and pollution may double risk of a deadly heart attack, study shows

As heat waves hit the US, doctors warn of increased risk for heart problems, especially in areas with high pollution levels.

Exposure to extreme heat and pollution may double risk of a deadly heart attack, study shows


Doctors warn that heat waves and smoke from wildfires continue to plague parts of the United States. This is especially true if you live in an area with high levels of pollution.

A new study has found that the risk of deadly heart attacks can double when exposed to extreme heat or high levels of particle contamination. This study was published in the Circulation journal on Monday. It found that extreme cold can also increase the risk of a heart attack.

The study examined more than 202,000 deaths from heart attacks in Jiangsu Province, China between 2015 and 2020. The study found that when temperatures are extremely high or very low, or if there is a high level particulate pollution, there is a "significantly associated" risk of a heart-attack death.

People are most at risk of dying from a heartattack when there is extreme heat and high pollution.

The most vulnerable were women and older people.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, particle pollution is a mixture of liquid and solid droplets that are floating in the atmosphere. The particles can be in the form or dust, smoke, soot, dirt. The coal and natural gas burning plants are the main source of particle pollution. It can be created by cars, agriculture, unpaved road, construction sites, and wildfires.

This study concentrated on the harmful effects of the smallest particulate matter, PM2.5. The particles are so small -- about 1/20th the width of a hair -- that they can pass through the body's normal defenses.

It can become stuck in the lungs, or enter the bloodstream. These particles can cause respiratory problems and irritation. Long-term exposure to the particles can lead to cancer, strokes and heart attacks.

The risk of a heart attack doubled on days with pollution above 37.5 micrograms/cubic meter, and when a heatwave lasted for four days. The increase in heart attacks was not the same on cold snaps or high pollution days.

Extreme temperatures do not necessarily mean the thermometer must reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Extreme high temperatures are defined as those between 82.6 and 97.9 degree Fahrenheit. The risk of death from heart attacks was 18% greater at that temperature during a heat wave lasting two days. It was 74% more during a 4-day heatwave when temperatures ranged between 94.8 and 109.4 Fahrenheit.

The risk is 4% higher during cold days when temperatures are between 33.3 and 40.5 degrees Fahrenheit over two days.

Researchers estimate that up to 2,8% of all heart attacks can be attributed to extreme temperatures combined with high levels of fine particle pollution.

"Extreme temperatures events are increasing in frequency, duration and intensity, and their adverse effects on health have grown in concern," said Yuewei Liu. He is an associate professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou.

The authors say that as the climate crisis causes more extremes in temperature, people need to be much more aware of the weather and take precautions before going out.

The authors say that people who are at risk of a heart attacks in high temperatures, such as those with health conditions or those aged over 60, young children, and women, should stay inside on days when pollution is high and temperatures are high.

Air purifiers can help reduce pollution in your home. In hot weather, use fans and air conditioners. If you must go outside, go early in the morning when temperatures are lower and wear lighter-colored clothing.